Luís Antunes

Birth: 1555, Évora.


Link to BRASILHIS Database:

Apothecary of Portuguese origin. He worked and lived in the city of Olinda, in Captaincy of Pernambuco. His apothecary shop and dwelling were located in front of the town’s Misericórdia. He also worked as a trader and sugar loader.

The apothecary Luís Antunes, a new Christian, was born in Évora, around 1555. Son of Rui Gomes, goldsmith, and Guiomar Lopes (his parents’ names also appear with different spellings: Ruy Gomez and Guimar Lopez), who were also the parents of Isabel Roiz and Lianor Gomes. All were residents of the captaincy of Pernambuco, around 1593. Luís Antunes, his wife, as well as his parents, lived in front of the Misericoridia of Olinda.

Luís Antunes arrived in Brazil, along with his family, around the year 1579, when his father was sentenced to exile for “clipping currency”. Rui Gomes owned a shop/workshop in Olinda.

According to the inquisitorial process of November 22, 1593 (“Luís Antunes against João Soares Pereira”), around the year 1577, Antunes was an apprentice at the apothecary’s shop of Garcia Nunes, in Lisbon (in front of the Madalena’s church).

In 1591, his Apothecary’s License is dispatched in Lisbon to work “in Pernambuco and in other parts of Brazil”. At this time, he was probably married to Maria Alvares, a new Christian and born in Lisbon, and working as an apothecary in Olinda.

He was very well-known, according to the mentions of his family’s members, especially his father. The only accusation made against him, Luís Antunes, is related to one made against his father. Rui Gomes was denounced, on August 12, 1595, by Cibaldo Lins, for not working on Saturdays.

This accusation influenced Father João Baptista, a priest of the Society of Jesus in Pernambuco, to denounce Luís Antunes in August 17, 1595. In 1593 he met Luís Antunes in a store buying cloth for his mother, who had asked him to make her a new outfit. The act itself did not seem aggravating, but the fact that he was the son of a Judaized was relevant.

Luís Antunes’ father was also denounced by João Picardo on two occasions: the first time on August 26, 1594; and the second on August 31, 1595 (Primeira visitação do Santo Ofício às partes do Brasil: Denunciações e Confissões de Pernambuco 1593-1595). In both denunciations the reason was the same: not working on Saturdays and wearing clean and/or new clothes on these days. According to Janaina Silva, Luís Antunes’ father had already been imprisoned in the kingdom, previously.

Both Luís Antunes and his wife, Maria Alvares, in their denunciations tried to reinforce that they followed the precepts of good Christians, since both had relatives involved in accusations related to Judaizing practices: Luís Antunes’ father and his wife’s mother, Catarina Alvares.

In 1593, Luís Antunes denounced João Soares Pereira, a former client and friend, about something that happened more than 18 years ago, while João Pereira was in prison in Lisbon. He had asked Luís Antunes for some ground escamonea (a root used as a purgative), which scandalized the apothecary because it could be used to kill anyone. When the apothecary refused the request of the defendant (an old Christian), saying that he was “God-fearing” and did not want to go to hell, João Soares Pereira replied that hell did not exist.

In the case of Maria Alvares, his wife, the acusation was also related to a late fact, which occurred more than 5 months before. Maria Alvares’ denunciation was made on August 17, 1595, the same day that her husband made the accusation against João Pereira. Maria Alvares denounced something related to the death of Beatriz Mendes, a new Christian, of whom she had been a friend. She gone to the house of Beatriz Mendes’s grandparents, where the funeral was being held. Maria Alvares had noticed that that the clothes used as shroud was neither new or clean, which would be different practices to those that were customary among Christians.

On November 23, 1595, Maria Alvares, wife of Luís Antunes, would be denounced by Maria de Faria (an old Christian), about an event that occurred in 1592 or 1593. Maria de Faria said that at this time she was in the house of Maria Alvares and Luís Antunes, and that she was telling the apothecary’s wife about facts she knew, from readings in “devotional books”, about the life of Jesus Christ. The dialogue between them would have ocureed on a Dark Wednesday, the day in which, according to biblical stories, Jesus Christ would be betrayed, whose act would cause his condemnation to death (the following day, Thursday). While Maria de Faria was explaining, Maria Alvares had said the following words: “since he [Jesus] knew they were going to kill him, why didn’t he save himself”; to which Maria de Faria replied that he had died of his own free will and that he had done it to save sinners (according to Christian teachings). And when the visitor asked Maria de Faria about the intention of the question of the denounced, she answered that Maria Alvares had done it without malice, because she did not understand. And that they had been friends for more than four years and that she was a good Christian.

Most of the information that exists about the life of the apothecary Luís Antunes comes from inquisitorial documentation (those made against him or someone in his family, but also the denunciations that he and his wife made). These denunciations are the result of quite frequent practices during the visits of the Holy Office of Inquisition to Brazil, during the Hispanic Monarchy. These accusations were part of what Janaina Silva calls “forms of negotiation to get rid of the Inquisitorial machine”.

Probably Luís Antunes and Maria Alvares, his wife, participated on those processes as a way to reaffirm their social position, as participants of the community and residents of the city of Olinda, in the period of denunciations (1593-1595). What can be noticed is that Luís Antunes, being a public figure (as he was mentioned as a referent in the denunciations of his relatives – father and wife), who owned his apothecary in one of the most known places of the colonial urban center, in front of the Misericordia, should have the attention on his person and the activities he performed.

The denunciations were not only made as a way to hide or soften their guilt, but also as a way, that being part of the system, they reassured their place of respectability and prestige. Moreover, by participating in the inquisitorial mechanisms, the new Christians tried to protect themselves from being suspected of connivance with the heresies committed. The fact that Luís Antunes’s father had suffered accusations, which influenced him to also be considered a suspect, underscored their care, on the part of the apothecary and his wife, to stress their good reputations, with conducts attributed to good Christians.


ANTT, Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Chancelaria de D. Filipe I, liv. 16, fl. 456v.

ANTT, Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Tribunal do Santo Ofício, Inquisição de Lisboa, proc. 1971.


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Zeli Teresinha Company (Universidad de Salamanca)

How to quote this entry:

Zeli Teresinha Company. “Luís Antunes“. In: BRASILHIS Dictionary: Biographic and Thematic Dictionary of Brazil in the Spanish Monarch (1580-1640). Available in: Date of access: 29/05/2024.

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